It was half an hour before sunset, and I parked my car just off some state highway in southern NH, on the side of a dirt road leading down to a cornfield. It was hot, I’d been driving for three and a half hours and I was hell bent on a swim. I’d just driven over a bridge–some tributary of the Connecticut.

So I ducked the chain into the cornfield teeming with buzzing bugs lit golden by the late light like nebulous starfields. I pushed my way through the stalks, then through sycamore branches, climbed down a muddy twelve-foot bank to the shallow, pebbly river. The water smelled faintly of fish and sunbaked mud and barely came past my knees. The sycamores were full of mockingbirds. I peeled off my clothes and swam at a leisurely pace, upstream so the current kept me in place. Then I found a piece of beaver-chewed driftwood for a walking stick and took a barefoot stroll on a rocky sandbar.

Normally I’d frown on this sort of thing. Pieces of grimy video arcade accoutrements half-submerged in the middle of a river. This particular instance, however, arrested me completely. I stood there and stared at it for a while just to reassure myself that I’d actually seen it.


The driftwood stick is now planted in my garden holding up tomatoes.

Summer in the Country

I love it here. You people who live in the city are missing it.

I’ve been looking for the history of this: a monolithic, ruinous stonework running alongside the horse trail through Chesterfield Gorge. USGS topographical maps surveyed in 1886 (see here, try the SW quadrant) shows an unpaved road following most of the length of the Westfield River, with even a couple of houses scattered along it. None of which are there now. Google Earth barely shows the road. So who knows what this thing is. It’s not a mill foundation, unless the river has been dammed and rerouted and the mill abandoned long enough to rot away utterly, leaving not even loam. Stranger things have happened, of course. It’s not the remains of a bridge either, because there’s no matching stonework on the far side. The best I can judge, this little linteled passageway was constructed purely for its future aesthetics as an overgrown ruin. Of course if I really cared, I could go digging through deeds at the hall of records and find the real answer. Note that I do not.

I hereby adopt the stonecut square as a personal seal of a par with the mossy skull, ouroboros, the stunted pine and the beat-up cane. I’m going to make a rubber cast of it and turn it into a stamp.